An Arizona man said he plans to cite religious discrimination if the Arizona Department of Transportation follows through with plans to revoke his driver’s license.
Sean Corbett became the first Pastafarian in Arizona to be issued a driver’s license that featured him wearing a colander (or pasta strainer) in the ID’s photo. Pastafarians are members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which is not a legally recognized religion in the United States.
According to Arizona Central, Corbett has attempted to obtain a license wearing a colander for the past three years but has been met with ridicule from various MVD locations throughout Arizona.
“I tried a couple different locations and was met with a lot of pushback and resistance. I was scorned at every location I went to, and they put out a memo about me, so by the time I got to (the) fourth and fifth MVD, they stopped me at the door.”
However, the 36-year-old Chandler, Arizona man persisted in his pursuit to obtain a license wearing, what he calls, religious headgear. He said that during his most recent attempt, the manager of the MVD location agreed to allow him to take a picture wearing the colander, but warned that the photo could be rejected.
— CNN International (@cnni) June 3, 2017
The Pastafarian was surprised when he received the driver’s license in the mail, instead of an expected rejection letter.
“I was really excited. I felt, in that moment, that I won my battle. It was a huge victory for me.”
That victory could be short-lived. After photos of Corbett’s new ID went viral, the ADOT declared that the Pastafarian would have to obtain a new license.
ADOT spokesman Doug Nick released a statement regarding the license. The ADOT oversees the Motor Vehicle Division.
“Driver license and ID photos have a serious role to ensure the holder of the credential is properly and readily identified. The integrity of these photos impacts the vital work of law enforcement and other entities that must be able to accurately verify a person’s identity. Allowances are made for medical needs and religious expression, but customers who use the photo merely to be provocative or satirical compromise the integrity of that process and risk having a photo recalled and retaken. Customers who insist on such photos are accommodated at the office to avoid needless confrontation. The system is designed to alert MVD to inappropriate photos through the use of facial recognition technology and if an error occurs, the photo can be recalled.”
The Pastafarian told Arizona Family that the ADOT has since put a stoppage on his driver’s license, which the news station verified with the government agency. The issue has been referred to ADOT’s Office of the Inspector General. Corbett said that the MVD shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose which religions it would recognize.
The state of Arizona is planning to void "Pastafarian" Sean Corbett's license. https://t.co/hFzvZLvdaG
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) June 2, 2017
For Corbett, a prolonged battle over his driver’s license could cost him his job. He is a driver for Lyft and Uber.
Sean Corbett is not the first Pastafarian to invoke religious freedom when trying to obtain a driver’s license while wearing a colander. Since the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was founded in 2005, members across the globe have fought for the right to wear a colander as religious headgear in official government IDs. The only two countries that legally recognize the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a religion are New Zealand and the Netherlands.
Since 2011, Pastafarians in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic have been successful in obtaining legal rights to wear the colander as a religious headgear. In the U.S., though, the battle seems to vary from state to state.
In 2015, the Inquisitr shared the story of a Massachusetts woman whose request to wear the strainer in her ID’s photo was rejected. However, attorneys for the American Humanist Association intervened on behalf of Lindsay Miller, citing religious freedom. The Pastafarian was eventually allowed to wear the colander.
The New York Daily News reported that a politician in New York was able to wear a colander while being sworn in to a town board, but a Pastafarian in New Jersey was rejected in his attempt to wear a colander in his driver’s license photo.
Corbett’s battle in Arizona is simply the latest in a long line of legal battles for Pastafarians wishing to wear a colander, which members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster claim is a religious symbol.
What do you think? Should the Arizona DOT revoke Sean Corbett’s driver’s license? Should a Pastafarian be allowed to wear their religious headgear in official government ID photos? Should any religion be able to wear religious headgear in official government ID photos?
[Featured Image by Jan Mika/Shutterstock]